Author: Ann Weil
Published: 1980 Avyx, Originally 1952 Puffin
Read For: Aloud to my kiddos for school
My Rating: 4 stars (out of 5) because we laughed an awful lot
Knowing nothing about this book before beginning to read it aloud, I was a bit leery--dreading that the interior would prove to be as uninteresting as the exterior (something that not even the lovely Newbery Honor could fully counteract.) I read the first line or two of the book, and the dread remained.
"Angelo! Angelo, look! A boat!"
Angelo put down the net he was mending, pushed his red cap back off his forehead, and looked at Michele.My first thought was: this is going to be a dreadful slog. But I was committed. I was going to read this book aloud to my 9 year old and 11 year old, regardless of its dreariness. I read on.
"A boat, eh? Wonderful! I must get excited. I must stop mending nets and stare. Here we sit on the island of Capri, with boathouses all around us, with fishing nets hanging like spider webs everywhere, with the bay full of boats which I've seen every day of my life for the past forty years--and the boy tugs at my arm, jumps up and down, screaming, and wants me to look. 'Look!' he says. 'Look, Angelo! A boat!'"I was hooked; my kiddos were laughing. Where had this wonderful sarcastic humor come from? Instantly Angelo was in the room with us, full of personality and zest. The fun didn't stop there--all the characters were full of life. My kiddos especially loved Signora Pagano who talked to the food she was cooking in order to convince it to cook properly.
"Mamma!" Michele sniffed the air. "Your fish! I can smell them. They must be burning!"
"My fish! My poor little fishes! I forgot all about them. Wait! Wait!" she cried. "I'm coming! I'm coming! Don't burn yourselves. I'm coming!"This was the perfect book to start the school year off with. We read more than we'd planned simply because it was engaging and fun. We enjoyed learning about the island of Capri and meeting the visitors who arrived in the boat with red sails. We were thrilled to go on the adventure to the cove with all of our new friends. If you like reading aloud, or if you enjoy practicing your foreign accents, this book provides plenty of enjoyment. This is a book worthy of the Honor Medal on its cover: my children thought it was great, and I thought it was great. It doesn't get too much better than that.